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Thanksgiving in Las Vegas: From temple to ta-tas

Thanksgiving is celebrated in a plethora of ways.

Some people stay at home with their families, gorging on turkey and glued to the football game.

Other people work through the holiday, catching a potluck in the office or acting like it’s a regular Thursday.

Some folks don’t have homes to go to and others assuage their conscience by volunteering.

Whatever the activity on Thanksgiving, almost every­body marks the holiday in some fashion.

Temple celebrates THANKSGIVUKKAH

This year, Thanksgiving coincides with another holiday, Hanukkah.

This collision of holidays hasn’t happened since Abraham Lincoln was giving lofty speeches, and it’s unlikely to happen again in the lifetime of anyone alive today.

Temple Beth Sholom celebrated the newly monikered “Thanksgivukkah” with a catered meal, including turkey and brisket, latkes (potato pancakes) and cranberry applesauce.

“It is something that happens once in a lifetime, so why not” celebrate both, Rabbi Felipe Goodman said. “This is the country that we live in. It’s a chance to come together with the congregation.”

About 50 people attended the dinner, which was open to whoever wanted to participate.

Thanksgivukkah is such a rare occurrence, you have to take advantage of the opportunity, said Brian Bloomfield, who was partaking in the meal.

Bloomfield attended the meal with his 2-year-old twins, his parents and his grandparents.

“I personally believe that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving go hand in hand,” Goodman said. “One of the things we’re privileged to celebrate in this country is freedom.”

Goodman stated that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving have common themes of freedom and giving thanks, so a celebration of the first degree was appropriate.

A firehouse thanksgiving

Fire station 1, in downtown Las Vegas, also had a congregation of sorts.

The firefighters in the middle of their 72-hour shifts joined their colleagues, their families and a few airmen from Nellis Air Force Base for a meal cooked by the firefighters.

The firefighters paid for the meal themselves, each chipping in $15.

“Firefighters are notoriously good cooks,” said firefighter Mark Saragosa, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. “We cook all the time together. We broke out some tasty recipes for the most part. Every­one is gonna be fat and happy today.”

This Thanksgiving, there were multiple offers from people and organizations to “adopt” Nellis airmen who didn’t have anywhere else to go for dinner.

Sean Moorehead and James Miller chose to dine with other heroes. Coming from base, they broke bread with the firefighters. And then they broke into the turkey.

“My last Thanksgiving I wasn’t at home, I was in basic” training, said Moorehead, from Kansas City, Mo. “I really appreciate that they opened their house to us. It’s basically just their families (here), so it’s cool.”

The firefighters invited about 20 airmen to join them. While less than that showed up, they were grateful to provide for the Nellis troops who didn’t have anywhere else to go.

“We had to put it together real quick,” Saragosa said. “We would’ve liked to get a lot of airmen, but if they’re at someone’s house, we’re OK with that.”

“It’s very exciting. We’re thrilled to death to have them here,” fire Capt. Robert Horton said. “We’re glad they accepted.”

“It’s a nice option away from home,” Miller said. He is from Michigan and has served for three years. “We got other offers from people. This just seemed cool.”

Supporting the military is very important to this group of firefighters, a quarter of whom served in the military or are still serving.

“We look at the servicemen as an extension of our family,” Horton said.

It may not have been the airmen’s home, but it was a home for the holiday.

An exotic thanksgiving

While home is an important part of the holiday for many people, some people eschew the family feeling and seek out another kind of Thanksgiving.

Like those celebrating Thanks­givukkah, they too go to a different kind of temple. One where they drink Wild Turkey, watch football and ogle women.

This Thanksgiving, The Horse Gentleman’s Club gave club patrons, taxicab drivers and others some real turkey to go with the sensual curves of the dancers.

“We did this in L.A. and it was very good,” club owner Victor Galam said. “We do the best we can. It’s good advertising.”

“I’m no chef, but I’m a good cook,” he added.

Galam cooked the free buffet meal, which included browned turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and Israeli salad.

“I think this is outstanding,” said Lucky Cab taxi driver who identified himself as Ron M. “We work 12-hour shifts, 60 hours a week, and this is the best thing going on in Vegas for us tonight.”

Cabdrivers normally get a little over an hour for lunch, but on Thanksgiving, their lunch is extended to two hours.

Ron would rather have been in California at his sister’s house with his family, but that wasn’t an option.

“This is the best thing going without a doubt,” he said. “It’s free, there’s great food, great company, entertainment. We’ve got the football on TV for us.”

Not everyone came to the club for the food.

For Tom B., his vacation just happened to fall over Thanksgiving weekend, and he was taking advantage of a guy’s trip.

“We’ve had a great year, and we decided to come to Vegas to unwind,” he said. “We’ve always had a traditional family meal, but (today) we’re going to gamble, we’re going to eat real good. … We could do whatever we want on this trip.”

And for a waitress at the club who identified herself as Cindy L., Thanksgiving is just a placeholder for Black Friday, where she and her colleagues take advantage of the shopping.

“I didn’t have any plans, so working was the better deal,” she said.

Contact reporter Rochel Leah Goldblatt at rgoldblatt@reviewjournal.com or 383-0381.

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